Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.
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Submitted by Alan head
The following is an article from the current Criterion newsletter, I thought it would be of interest to the list....
CRITERION STAFF Karen Stetler, our senior Special Edition producer, has been with Criterion and Janus Films for more than ten years. She has produced some of our more celebrated discs, and has had the opportunity to meet and work with some fascinating people. One of the highlights of her career was working on Powell and Pressburger's THE RED SHOES:
I have been producing special editions for The Criterion Collection since 1990, beginning with our laserdisc of Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull. Since then I have worked on our releases of many other great films including, Dead Ringers, Monty Python's Life of Brian and most recently Stanley Donen's Charade.
One of my favorite experiences was producing the special edition of Powell & Pressburger's gorgeous Technicolor classic, The Red Shoes, which we recently released on DVD. The films of Powell & Pressburger have always been a cornerstone of The Criterion Collection. The first two director commentary tracks ever produced (by any company) were Michael Powell's tracks for the Criterion laserdiscs of Black Narcissus and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp - released in 1988! Joined by Martin Scorsese, Powell reminisced about his long career in the British film industry. Those of us who have been at Criterion since the beginning have always cherished his opening thought on Black Narcissus: "This is Michael Powell, dreaming and remembering about Black Narcissus."
Sadly, both Powell & Pressburger had passed away by the time we began work on The Red Shoes, but we aimed to produce the most extensive special edition of the film possible. In collaboration with British film scholar Ian Christie, we created a commentary track that would combine his analysis of the film with interviews of the surviving members of "The Archers"(Powell & Pressburger's acclaimed production group). Most of these people were well into their 80's with accomplished careers behind them, but they all had strong memories of shooting this seminal film. We recorded Jack Cardiff and Marius Goring in London and took a field trip to the English countryside to talk with the exquisite Moira Shearer. We included some previously recorded comments by the composer, Brian Easdale and comments from Martin Scorsese, who discussed how the film has inspired him and other film directors.
I was also lucky to have the generous support of The Powell and Pressburger families, especially that of Michael Powell's widow, film editor Thelma Schoonmaker. She suggested we include Powell and Pressburger's 1978 novelization of The Red Shoes and helped me to cut it down to a workable length. She asked actor Jeremy Irons to read the novel aloud for an alternate audio track. Despite his busy schedule shooting Die Hard with a Vengeance, he spent several days recording a spirited reading of this little known book.
We worked closely with The British Film Institute and Rank Film Distributors to locate many rare archival materials from the film and the elements for our beautiful new video transfer, personally supervised by Jack Cardiff. When the production was finished The British Film Institute hosted a party for everyone who had helped with the disc. What a treat to see Jack Cardiff, Moira Shearer, Marius Goring, and Brian Easdale together in the same room!
For me, this project was a great opportunity to learn first hand about the creative spirit of Powell & Pressburger, two of the most admired English filmmakers in cinema history. The brilliance of their collaborative spirit was still evident through the memories of the other Archers, and I will forever feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet and work with them.
[The original Criterion P&P pages are available here. They are no longer on Criterion's own web site]